The U.S. Military and Counterinsurgency 11.02.06
October 20, 2006
On November 2nd, the Cato Institute hosted a discussion on the U.S. military and counterinsurgency. Speakers include Jeffrey Record, Air War College; Thomas E. Ricks, Senior Pentagon Correspondent, Washington Post; Conrad Crane, Director, U.S. Army Military History Institute, Army War College; and Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute.
America's conventional military supremacy has failed to deliver decisive results against irregular forces employing unconventional military tactics. The U.S. military learned some useful counterinsurgency lessons in Vietnam but had completely forgotten those lessons by the end of the Cold War. Military leaders and defense experts are attempting to resurrect some of those old ideas, while also developing new approaches to counterinsurgency in the age of transnational terrorism. Are there deeper cultural problems that prevent the U.S. military from waging effective counterinsurgency campaigns? Does the American public have the will to risk American lives on such operations, and is the public prepared to wage limited, indecisive military campaigns for long periods of time? What lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan might be applied to future conflicts?
To learn more, visit the Cato web site:
Reconnecting With the Reality-Based Community
The American Conservative's Scott McConnell reviews Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman's book Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World.
The article was published in the October 23, 2006, issue of The American Conservative, and is available in its entirety online:
Scott McConnell is the editor and publisher of The American Conservative and a member of the executive committee of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy.
On the Offense
October 19, 2006
No matter what the facts say, President Bush insists that we stay the course writes Andrew J. Bacevich in The American Conservative.
This article was published in the October 23, 2006 issue of The American Conservative, and is available in its entirety online:
Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy.
Christians in the Crossfire
October 18, 2006
Doug Bandow documents the suffering of Iraq's small -- and dwindling -- Christian community in the pages of The American Conservative.
The article appeared in the magazine's October 23, 2006, issue, and is available in its entirety online:
Doug Bandow is vice president of policy for Citizen Outreach. A member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, he is writing a book on international religious persecution.
America's World Role Has to be Realistic and Moral
October 17, 2006
Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman, co-authors of Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World, explain the essence of their strategy in the Financial Times.
A particularly American way of looking at the world has failed in Iraq, alongside the strategy of the Bush administration. This is a widely shared belief in expanding American power whilst spreading "freedom".
Because this belief is deeply rooted in US political culture, no alternative approach has yet emerged from this failure. Instead, we see intellectual and political bewilderment.
There are now worrying signs that a bipartisan consensus is arising from this confusion, based on the same assumptions and myths as before. This consensus is convincing to many Americans, but thoroughly unconvincing to other nations, and utterly out of step with reality in much of the world.
It is true that any approach to foreign policy that hopes to win support in the US must embrace elements of both realism and morality. For on the one hand, a majority of Americans have always insisted that US policy serve the interests and above all the safety of Americans, rather than exclusively pursuing its ideals. Equally, dominant strains in the US tradition have repeatedly shown a deep aversion to strategies based purely on a "classical" realism free of all moral constraints and aims.
Neo-conservatives and liberal hawks do try to balance realism and morality. They correctly perceive that the internal nature of foreign countries matters as never before to American security -- because Islamist revolution and extremism flourish in failed states and collapsed societies.
They are right to argue that a classical realist approach is inadequate to tackle this problem. Their answers, however, lead in the radically contradictory directions of both hardline realism and utopian morality -- or rather, pseudo-realism and pseudo-morality.
Instead of this hypocritical and unsuccessful approach we propose the philosophy of ethical realism as an intellectual and moral basis for US strategy. Ethical realism was propounded in the past by some of the great figures of the American intellectual tradition, including the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, the philosopher Hans Morgenthau and the great thinker and diplomat George Kennan.
These men were strong opponents of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism, but all three became deeply disillusioned with US Cold War strategy, especially its combination of national messianism with paranoia and militarism. Niebuhr, Morgenthau and Kennan were all supporters of resisting communist aggression in Korea, but all joined in strong opposition to the Vietnam war. Their voices have been largely, and hauntingly, absent from the recent foreign policy debates.
Ethical realism points towards an international strategy based on prudence; a concentration on possible results rather than good intentions; a close study of the nature, views and interests of other states, and a willingness to accommodate them when these do not contradict America's own truly vital interests; and a mixture of profound American patriotism with an equally profound awareness of the limits on both American power and on American goodness.
From ethical realism, we derive the concept of the Great Capitalist Peace, which echoes Kennan's and Morgenthau's concepts of international order and the moral purposes of diplomacy. It denotes a global order tacitly agreed to by all the major states of the world, and which guarantees their truly vital interests, including the defeat of terrorist groups.
The Great Capitalist Peace depends in part on American global power.
However, both the real limits on American power and the need to accommodate the legitimate interests and ambitions of other states mean that, in most areas, the direct use of American power needs to be deliberately restrained.
Instead, the US should whenever possible work through informal concerts linking the most important states of a region. In the Middle East, for example, the US needs to help create a regional concert of states including Iran and Syria, and to seek through this concert to contain and regulate the conflict in Iraq after the US withdraws from that country. To that end, it is also essential that the US act with determination to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the Far East, the US should understand that China, not America, will in future be the regional "first among equals". As long as China is prepared to act responsibly and in co-operation with other regional states like Japan, the US should explicitly recognise China's leadership in seeking answers to the dangerous actions of the North Korean regime and other future regional challenges.
This concept is not opposed to the long-term spread of democracy. On the contrary, it is an essential precondition for true democracy in much of the world. For it would be a guarantee of international peace, order, trade, and development, without which democracy can in any case never long endure.
Anatol Lieven is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. John Hulsman is von Oppenheim Scholar at the German Council on Foreign Relations. Their book, Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World, is published by Pantheon. This article originally appeared in the Financial Times (October 16, 2006), and is reprinted here by permission of the authors.
Why America Keeps Losing 'Small Wars'
October 16, 2006
Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the U.S. Air War College, traces America's failures in small wars to our unique strategic culture.
This article was originally published in The Baltimore Sun, October 15, 2006, and is available in its entirety here:
Jeffrey Record is a professor of strategy at the U.S. Air War College and a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. He is the author of the Cato Institute analysis "The American Way of War" and the forthcoming book Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win. These views are his own.
Pakistan's Russian Roulette of Terrorism
October 09, 2006
Foreign policy analyst Subodh Atal warns that the West is playing a dangerous game in Pakistan.
Even as the Taliban regain strength in Afghanistan and wage an insurgency nearly as fierce as in Iraq, the hub of terrorism in the subcontinent has shifted to Pakistan. A series of international terrorism plots uncovered in the U.S., U.K. and Australia has been hatched in, or linked to Pakistan. In the most notorious such plot, British police arrested several suspects planning to use liquid explosives aboard commercial airliners flying from Britain to the United States.
The inability or unwillingness of Pakistani authorities to clamp down on extremist Islam is evident in a recent deal signed by the Pakistani authorities and local militias in Waziristan, which cedes the key province bordering Pakistan to pro-Taliban forces. The deal creates a two-pronged threat -- enabling freer passage to Taliban extremists across the Afghan border, and creating potential sanctuaries for Al Qaeda-related international terrorists. To the east, Pakistani extremist groups continue to foster attacks in Indian Kashmir as well as major cities across the rest of India. The links among the extremist groups, hard-line clerics and Pakistan's military and intelligence services, in a nation infiltrated by Taliban and Al Qaeda, imply that Pakistan could continue to serve as a nucleus for international terrorism activity.
Among the most dangerous of the Pakistani extremist groups are Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Laskhar-e-Toiba, was formed in 1986 as a brainchild of Abdullah Azzam, Osama Bin Laden's political and religious mentor. The group's sprawling headquarters complex near Lahore in eastern Pakistan is "a coordination center for its organizational, jihadi and educational activities", as reported in the Jamestown Foundation in 2005. Until 2001, the complex was the venue for immense annual gatherings attended by hundreds of jihadi. Members of the group are reported to have sheltered Al Qaeda operatives fleeing post-9/11 operations in Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002. Lashkar imprints have been uncovered in terrorist attacks in major cities across India, as well as a number of plots in countries from Australia to the United States, where arrests and convictions in Virginia and California confirm the group's intercontinental reach.
Pakistani journalist Amir Mir, in his book The True Face of Jehadis: Inside Pakistan's Network of Terror, points out that Laskhar-e-Toiba is a favorite of the ISI among all the terrorist groups operating in Pakistan. Mir's book describes Lashkar activists "distributing pamphlets and periodicals preaching the virtues of jehad in Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya, Kosovo and Eritrea, besides vowing to plant the flag of Islam in Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi."
Jaish founder Masood Azhar, established the group in 2002 after his release by India in return for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines jet, vowing to destroy the United States and India. Azhar is related by marriage to Rashid Rauf, a key suspect in the London airliner bombing plot. Another notorious member of the group, Sheikh Saeed Omar, may be a critical link tying together Pakistani extremist groups, Al Qaeda and the Pakistani intelligence services. Credible reports suggests Omar's role in the financing of the 9/11 hijackers. International counter-terrorism agencies have been denied access to Omar, who was jailed in Pakistan after being tied to the high profile killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
The infiltration of Pakistan's state by extremists goes far beyond the presence of a few international terrorist groups, however. Islamic radicals have co-opted political parties, including some allied to Musharraf himself, as well as social networks, charities, and businesses. Numerous reports point towards radical links of the nation's military and intelligence services. Noted columnist Steve Coll described this infrastructure as part of "what Pakistan has become as a state and society", in a discussion on the PBS show NewsHour.
Compounding Pakistan's terrorism problem is the nation's history of proliferation of nuclear weapons technology to a number of unstable nations, including Iran, Libya and North Korea. Such activities, which amount to the dangerous trading of the nation's strategic arsenal, must have had at least tacit approval and knowledge of the establishment. Such fears are reinforced by reports that Pakistani nuclear scientists have had contacts with both Osama Bin Laden and Lashkar-e-Toiba.
While intense international counter-terrorism efforts strive to track down and stop plots originating out of Pakistan, the sheer number of such plots pose a significant threat. Given the nation's explosive mix of Islamic extremism intertwined with state institutions, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and a pattern of nuclear proliferation, the game of Russian roulette being played out in Pakistan is perhaps the most dangerous counter-terrorism challenge in the world today.
Since 9/11, the United States has depended on the Musharraf regime for tackling the terrorism problem originating from Pakistan. However, under Musharraf's rule, the Pakistani military has continued to hold sway over the nation's politics with Islamist support, and little progress has been made towards moving the country away from its extremist path. Husain Haqqani, Director of the Center of International Relations at Boston University, and ex-advisor to several Pakistani prime ministers describes the extent of the problem in his book, Pakistan, Between Mosque and Military. According to Haqqani, "Under military leadership, Pakistan has defined its national objective as wresting Kashmir from India and in recent years, establishing a client regime in Afghanistan. Unless Islamabad's objectives are redefined as focusing on economic prosperity and popular participation in governance -- which the military as an institution remains reluctant to do -- the state will continue to turn to Islam as a national unifier."
Unquestioning western support, including considerable financial and military aid, has acted as an enabler for Musharraf and the Pakistan military to continue to steer the nation down the same path. Many critical long-term goals, such as rooting out of intolerance from Pakistani madrassa and public school curricula, have not been realized five years after 9/11, even as extremist groups tied to the Al Qaeda and Taleban remain entrenched in the country.
Without a transitioning back towards democracy, and away from extremism and domination of the military, Pakistan will continue to act as a hub of international terrorism and a destabilizing influence in the region. As Haqqani points out in his book, "The United States has sought short term gains from its relationship with Pakistan, inadvertently accentuating that country's problems in the process." A sustained end to the extremism and terrorism centered in Pakistan may require a significant overhaul of policy. Specifically, the United States should move away from its over-dependence on a general who has failed to deliver on many of his promises, and instead support the nation's mainstream parties that have been sidelined since Musharraf's coup in 1999. Washington and others should also consider tying external aid to specific objectives such as the closing down of terrorist camps and measurable action against Taliban militants.
Subodh Atal is an independent foreign policy analyst based near
Misreading the Tea Leaves: U.S. Missteps on Foreign Policy
October 06, 2006
Stephen M. Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, traces the Bush administration's many foreign policy mistakes to a fundamental misreading of the way the world works.
The article was published in the Boston Globe, October 5, 2006, and can be read in its entirety here:
Stephen M. Walt is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and a professor of international affairs at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of several books, including Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy.
October 05, 2006
Paul W. Schroeder, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, makes the case for military withdrawal from Iraq. Failure to achieve a quick victory, he explains, does not mean that we have to continue to lose.
The article was the cover story in the October 9, 2006 issue of The American Conservative, and is available in its entirety online:
Paul W. Schroeder is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and professor emeritus of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of The Transformation of European Politics, 1765-1848.
Ethical Realism 10.10.06
October 04, 2006
Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman discussed their new book, Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World, at a forum hosted by the Cato Institute.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Featuring the authors Anatol Lieven, New America Foundation; John Hulsman, German Council on Foreign Relations; with comments by Lawrence Kaplan, The New Republic; and Joseph Cirincione, Center for American Progress.
Since September 11, but particularly in the wake of the Iraq war, many Americans have been asking questions about the foundations of U.S. foreign policy. Foreign policy realists base their approach to foreign policy on long-standing American traditions, but they have yet to set forward a compelling alternative vision for national security that will appeal to idealistic Americans. In Ethical Realism, Anatol Lieven, former Financial Times foreign correspondent, and John Hulsman, recently of the Heritage Foundation, sketch out a foreign policy framework based on the philosophy of American scholars and statesmen from Hans Morgenthau to George F. Kennan, outlining an approach that promises to restore America’s credibility and legitimacy in the world, while advancing American interests without apology or hesitation.
To learn more about this event, visit the Cato web site:
Beware a New Bush Doctrine
Seyom Brown of the Belfer Center at Harvard University outlines the fuzzy parameters of a new Bush Doctrine.
The article was published in the Boston Globe, October 4, 2006, and is available in its entirety online:
Seyom Brown, author of The Illusion of Control: Force and Foreign Policy in the 21st Century, is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.